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MSU English Professor and Author Carrie Jerrell Discusses Creative Writing Program's Fall Reading Series

The first reader to be featured in the MSU Creative Writing Reading Series is Silas House on Thursday, September 8th.
The first reader to be featured in the MSU Creative Writing Reading Series is Silas House on Thursday, September 8th.

The Murray State Creative Writing program hosts another fall reading series featuring authors like Silas House, Crystal Wilkinson, and others. Austin Carter speaks to English professor Dr. Carrie Jerrell about the upcoming series that kicks off with Silas House on Thursday, September 8th.

"[House] is here as part of the Clinton and Mary Opal Moore Appalachian Writers' Residency, which is a gift that was given to us by the children of Clinton and Mary Opal Moore," Jerrell explains. "Clinton and Mary Opal Moore grew up in eastern Kentucky but moved to Paducah. Their children wanted to establish a gift that would connect the two parts of the state because sometimes, we can feel pretty far apart from each other. They wanted to do that through literature."

House has a new novel coming out called Lark Ascending, Jerrell continues. "That book follows a character, Lark, in a not-so-distant future who is forced to leave America because of climate change. It delves into our relationship to family, what we call home. He immigrates to Ireland, which is one of the few counties in this future scenario that are still taking immigrants from other countries. So, I think it's a really fascinating way to think about our region and our current situation but also what effect the things that are happening now might have in the future."

The series' second reader will be Crystal Wilkinson, who will read excerpts from two different works on Thursday, September 15th. "One is her latest novel, The Birds of Opulence, which is a series of linked stories. It covers several generations of families and family members who live in a town in the South called Opulence. These Black families are intertwined; they have all sorts of secrets. So, the novel explores those relationships. And Crystal is such a lyrical writer, so they're really beautifully written stories."

"The other collection she'll probably be reading from is Perfect Black, which is her most recent work. It's a collection of poetry that I think is very personal to her. It follows her family, her own upbringing, and explores many similar themes to what we see in Birds but through these forms of poems that are really accessible, approachable, and beautiful."

"Our third event will be in November," Jerrell says. "Donald Quist is coming. He has written several books of essays and one book of short stories. His work has been compared to James Baldwin. He writes about identity and living abroad as a Black American."

"There can be something magical about hearing the writer express what they've written in a way that they imagined it," Jerrell concludes. "The inflection they use, the body language they have, the context they give. They may give you stories behind the stories—how this came to be or the experience that led them to writing it. That offers the listener and the audience member a deeper appreciation. It's a richer experience for sure."

The MSU Creative Writing Program Fall Reading Series schedule is as follows:
Thursday, September 8th @ 7:30 pm | Curris Center Ballroom: Silas House
Thursday, September 15th @ 7:30 pm | Curris Center Ballroom: Crystal Wilkinson
Wednesday, November 9th | Location and Time TBD: Donald Quist

For more information on the reading series or the creative writing program, visit its website or Facebook page.

Austin Carter is a Murray State grad and has been involved with WKMS since he was in high school. Over the years he has been a producer for WKMS and has hosted several music shows, but now calls Morning Edition his home each weekday morning.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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